In my last post I talked about the need to ban junk food advertising to children. I pointed out the weakness of a recent report from the U.S. from Healthy Eating Research (HER) and suggested that the rest of Canada look to Quebec where all advertising to kids has been banned for several decades. Quebec legislation and its enforcement are not without complications. But it is a strong stand by the law against an unethical practice.
Within days of that post several bloggers commented on another initiative that, again, raises issues respecting marketing to children but from a different angle. A campaign to advertise healthy foods to youngsters, fruits and vegetables -- FNV, has emerged from the Partnership for a Healthier America Summit. It's not a taxpayer funded health campaign; it's a for profit venture for those sponsoring the initiative. The program has been endorsed by Michelle Obama and various celebrities. The website claims its focus is on "influencing consumption...of fruits and vegetables among teens and moms" but there is no indication of how kids will be shielded from such promotions. (And why is there no mention of "dads"?)
The initiative has caused a stir, including cordial disagreements among those who are generally aligned against the tactics of Big Food. So, for example, Bettina Elias Siegel is for and Casey Hinds and Yoni Friedhoff are against. All three of these noted commentators who speak about obesity and other health issues have made important arguments, pro and con, which you can read for yourself. There are good reasons, in theory, to support such a program. But, in reality, I fear that it may do more harm than good especially if it is taken up in this country. Here are three reasons why I'm wary.